Press release from Carolina Pediatrics:
Going to the movies is a magical experience for most children. However, some of the very things that can make it wonderful for them – the big screens, the low lighting, the loud sounds – can be problematic for kids who have difficulties processing sensory information. Two years ago, Carolina Pediatrics, an Asheville pediatric therapy center, teamed up with Regal Cinema to help provide a movie-going experience tailor-made for children with sensory issues.
In March, the theater will be screening Lego Batman, and the first 100 kids will receive their very own movie posters.
Today, Carolina Pediatrics announced that Regal Cinema has expanded its outreach to the special needs community, providing additional opportunities to enjoy the movies, just like every other kid. Throughout 2017, the theater will be offering monthly screenings of new releases, at discounted rates, in theaters specially adapted to meet sensory concerns.
The partnership between Carolina Pediatrics and Regal Cinema began with a concerned grandmother. After bringing her special needs grandson to the movies, she suggested the idea of specially adapted movie screenings to his therapists at Carolina Pediatrics. They, in turn, brought the idea to the management at Regal, who were more than happy to help this oft-overlooked group of special needs kids have a fun and memorable moviegoing experience, and enjoy a sense of community and camaraderie.
Carolina Pediatrics worked closely with Regal to help them create the perfect environment for kids with sensory issues. At their suggestion, they added more lighting, lower sound, and enough space to wiggle and move.
The first year, Regal offered two weekly early-morning screenings of previous releases for $1 throughout the summer. The next year, they offered summer screenings of new releases at regular ticket prices. This year, the theater will be presenting one screening of a new release each month for the entire year of 2017, at a discounted admission price.
Carolina Pediatrics is delighted with Regal’s commitment to provide special needs kid with a “typical” experience they might otherwise never have had. “Although fun and exciting to many, movie theaters can be a sensory overload for others,” says Carolina Pediatrics occupational therapist Nicole Newell, MS, OTR/L. “The darkened room, the bright lights of the screen, the increased volume and intensity of sound, and the inability to get up and move around or escape these environments can make seeing a movie a very scary experience. Sensory friendly movies are in tune with the sensitive viewer; offering more neutral lighting and sound, and allowing for movement and retreat from the stimulus if needed. We are thrilled to have a sensory friendly space to which we can refer our sensitive kiddos and families.”
In truth, this option provides special needs kids with much more than just the ability to watch a movie. It creates a sense of integration and inclusion in the community. It helps them engage in the world around them, and it eases them into a real-world experience that will help prepare them for the future. It also offers them a sense of community – they will share the theater with other kids just like them, who will be understanding of their needs. They may even make a few new friends.
Special needs screenings are a great opportunity for parents, too. Parenting a child with special needs can be isolating and financially draining. Heading out to the movies gives parents an opportunity to get out of the house, see a fun flick, and socialize with other parents in their same situation. The discount helps by making a trip to the theater an affordable option for the family.
The March screening of Lego Batman will be held on the 11th at 10:30 a.m. Contact the Regal Biltmore Grande Stadium 15 Theatre at (844) 462-7342. The theater is located at 292 Thetford Street, Asheville, NC.